ST calls Budget 2022’s plans as building blocks for a fairer, greener & more inclusive S’pore March 15, 2022 In a comprehensive report on this year’s Budget published on Mar 12, The Straits Times wrote that “the debates on each ministry’s spending plans could perhaps be described as the building blocks for what this Singapore could look like”. The article praised the Budget and went on to give a summary of what this Government is doing to build a fairer, greener and move inclusive Singapore. Here are some key measures. Building on ground concerns The national paper described that the attention to ground sentiment as “a theme throughout the ministries’ debates” and was reflected in various ministries. the announcement that home owners who have difficulties selling their flats due to the Ethnic Integration Policy can now request for HDB to buy back their units. the new points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) for Employment Pass (EP) approvals that will provide transparency to employers.the delay of the GST hike and implementing it in two stages.the shift away from grades with the implementation of full subject-based banding and removal of mid year exams. Building support for vulnerable Lower-wage workers and low income families are also key in these year’s Budget. ST wrote that “the various measures announced over the past two weeks illustrate Budget 2022’s stated intent to build a fair and inclusive society”. For instance: the automatic qualification for other help schemes for those on ComCare.the enhancement of Workfare from Jan 2023.the extension of the Progressive Wage Model to in-house cleaners, security officers, landscape workers, as well as administrators and drivers across ALL sectors.the introduction of the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme that will provide support of up to 50 per cent of wage increases for lower wage workers, to encourage stronger adoption by businesses despite economic headwinds, while it helps to cushion the impact of the wage increases to consumers.the new school for children with multiple disabilities.the masterplan for inmates to pick up digital skills prior to their release. Building a more sustainable Singapore On this front, ST wrote that “measures were introduced this year to address the issue of the fast-ageing population and its potential strain on the healthcare system, as well as the ever-pressing climate crisis”. For instance: the announcement that every Housing Board town will be Electric Vehicle-Ready by 2025.the charge of at least 5 cents per disposable bag from mid-2023 in a bid to cut down on excessive use of such bags.the broadening of producing other food types so that Singapore can provide 30 per cent of the country’s food needs locally by 2030.the carbon tax hike. the ambitious target of net-zero emissions by or around 2050.the Healthier SG strategy that will put out preventive measures for an ageing population. You can read the full article here. Everyone plays a part More importantly, this year’s Budget showed that everyone has a part to play, with the well-to-do contributing more, while the low-income still contributing and receiving more in return. Indeed, this forms part of the overall progressive tax structure in Singapore. For every dollar of tax paid, a lower-income Singaporean will get back S$4 in grants and subsidies. For the middle-income, they get S$2 back for every dollar of tax they pay. The wealthy in our society will pay more than what they receive – they only get back 30 cents for every dollar of tax paid. This is the social compact that we want: not of freeloaders and resentment but of Singaporeans building a cohesive and inclusive society. Such a system only bodes well for Singapore and for future generations of Singaporeans to come.